GTRI soft skills

Demonstrate Soft Skills to Land Your Job or Internship!

What do you think it takes to land your dream job? Good grades? A glowing reference? Powerful connections?

If you listed any of the above, you’d be correct. But you’d be forgetting one very important skill. A skill that is overlooked by many, but never by employers: mastery of soft skills.

Your Emotional Intelligence

You may have heard of the term “I.Q” before, used as a measurement for intelligence. But a different measurement, for a different kind of intelligence, is just as important to your success as brain power.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, refers to your ability to form relationships, with yourself and with others. Emotional intelligence is responsible for your personal characteristics, known as soft skills, which define your value as an employee.

Examples of Soft Skills

Whenever you make it to an appointment on time, you’re demonstrating a soft skill. While NASA won’t contact you just for that, chances are you already have a healthy amount of emotional intelligence.

Soft skills can be broken up into different categories. According to studies, the seven most important soft skills employers look for are as follows:

1. A great work ethic
2. A positive attitude
3. Strong communication skills
4. Time management skills
5. Problem-solving abilities
6. Team-work
7. Confidence

Demonstrating Soft Skills

Great grades can be included in your resume easily. So too can work experience, mastery of the piano and the ability to speak another language.

Soft skills are a little more difficult to demonstrate. After all, it’s easy to say you possess one. How do you prove it? And how do you prove it in a natural way?

For example, consider the following personal statement: “I’m a moral individual who won’t steal your things. I like working in teams so I have somebody to chat to about baseball. I can problem-solve almost any quandary. Just last week I managed to figure out why my WI-FI wasn’t working, thus saving the repair guy a trip. Though, that wasn’t a big deal, as I like talking to people. I’m a great communicator.”

While it demonstrates several soft skills, don’t expect it to land you a job.

Soft Skills and Resumes
Using your resume as a means of displaying your skills is vital.

One way to include soft skills on to your resume is to take a formal class in them. If you’ve worked for any type of business before, you’ll almost certainly have done team-building exercises. Right now, you may even be part of a Toast Masters group. If listed on your resume, this will demonstrate your communication skills are better than average.

The state of Michigan has created a free video program to provide training in soft skills. CLICK HERE to find that video series.

The second way to include soft skills on to a resume is to refer to them indirectly. If you were responsible for implementing a new filing system or accounting method at your old job, you’ve demonstrated a soft skill: leadership.

You can either mention this when talking about job roles on your resume, or save it for an interview.

Demonstrating Soft Skills in Person

Emotional intelligence can be broken up into two parts: personality traits and skills.

While skills are better demonstrated in resume form or as an answer to a question, personality traits will shine through on their own if you let them.

A positive attitude and a passion for working hard are difficult to hide. Before going to any meeting with an employer, it’s best to remind yourself of these skills. Leaving home with a positive focus, a healthy dose of confidence, and the desire to sell yourself will mean you’re in the right frame of mind to make the best impression.

Familiarizing yourself with the social nuances within the American work place is also recommended.

What are your strengths, and what needs work?

Now you understand the importance of EQ, it’s important to self-evaluate. It’s likely you’ll have some personal traits you’re proud of, but have others that need working on.

Go through the seven points above and write examples of times when you’ve demonstrated your emotional intelligence. Doing so will help prepare you for upcoming interviews and many workplace situations you may encounter. It will also give you a good indication of where your strengths and weaknesses may lie.

Student Spotlight: Sangeeth Sudharaka Pushewalage


Sangeeth Sudharaka Pushewalage is originally from Sri Lanka.  He left his country for the Sangeeth.PushewalageSangeeth.Pushewalagefirst time to come to Michigan for college.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and finance.  Sangeeth is now starting to pursue his Master of Science in accounting in fall 2014 at Grand Valley State University.  He is currently the only Sri Lankan student at his University.

Sangeeth is currently on OPT, which will be expiring in December 2014.  He will be eligible for CPT as soon as he starts his graduate program in the fall.

The number one reason Sangeeth chose Grand Valley to pursue his Master’s Degree is because of Grand Valley’s positive reputation for their Seidman Business School.  Sangeeth received a scholarship to fund his tuition expenses.  Grand Valley was a smart choice for Sangeeth because Grand Valley is the best value school, has a supportive international student program and his credits transferred easily.

Sangeeth has had difficulties in finding an internship being an international student.  He has been previously told by employers that he has all the qualifications for a specific job but these companies were hesitant to hire him.  They would not have been able to hire him as a full time employee after giving him an internship.  Some employers even rejected interviewing him because they knew they would have to sponsor him for an H1-B visa.


Eventually Sangeeth was able to land an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Detroit.  Having completed that internship, he is currently waiting to begin his next internship with Perrigo Company in Allegan, Mich.

Sangeeth has adjusted to the cold Michigan weather, but misses the year round warm weather in Sri Lanka.  “Being the only child in my family makes me miss my parents a lot,” Sangeeth said after being asked about what he misses about home. He misses hanging out with his friends as well.

Sangeeth’s hobbies include listening to music, playing basketball, shooting pool and hanging out with his friends.  He also likes to research about new technological products in the market.

Sangeeth Pushewalage

Sangeeth Pushewalage


Sangeeth has visited many beautiful places within Sri Lanka including Hunnas Falls, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa.  He also got the chance to explore the United States when he came here for school.  Sangeeth got the opportunity to travel to Chicago and Anaheim, California with his fraternity Beta Alpha Psi.  He also trained in Tampa, Florida for his internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Sangeeth plans to stay in Michigan.  He has adjusted to the environment of West Michigan after living there for a few years.  He has also made a lot of friends in the area.  Sangeeth wants to give back to West Michigan by working there. Sangeeth.Pushewalage

Sangeeth will seek a job in Michigan to start after he receives his masters in January 2016.